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Title Fight, the Dissent: "Thor #1"

When something as big as Thor #1, that completely alters the character after more than 50 years of publication history, the only proper response is our very first "Title Fight".

Thor #1

Publisher: Marvel
Length: 25 pages
Writer: Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman
Price: $3.99
Publication Date: 2014-12

Thor is my ten-year old daughter's favorite superhero. She hasn't read a lot of Thor comicbooks; her tastes tend to run more toward Raina Telgemier's Smile or Jeff Smith's Bone. She mostly knows Thor from the movies. She likes the fairy-tale setting of Asgard and the courtliness of Odin, Frigga and the rest of the royal family and friends. She likes Thor's costume, particularly his red cape. I'm also pretty sure that she thinks Chris Hemsworth is cute, especially with long hair. (But then again who doesn't?) But my daughter mostly likes Thor because of Mjolnir and all the power that comes along with it; she likes Thor for his sense of justice and honor; she likes Thor for his compassion and his thunderous strength.

Halloween is approaching and my daughter really wants to trick-or-treat as a superhero this year. She likes Wonder Woman and says that the Amazon princess is her third-favorite hero after Thor and Captain America, but I suspect that she only says this because of the cultural prominence of the character; she's not interested in a Wonder Woman costume. She considered trick-or-treating as Gamora, from Guardians of the Galaxy, but then decided that the green body paint might be a little extreme.

Then I told her about this new comicbook from Jason Aaron, the one where a female picks up the fabled hammer of the God of Thunder and gains the power of Thor. After that, we spent part of Saturday morning looking online for Thor costumes. There are a lot more of them for boys than for girls, but there are some out there, and with a little creativity and hard work I think we just might be able to pull this off. I sure hope so. After all, she has the hair for it.

There have never been a lot of really good female superheroes. Other than Wonder Woman, there aren't many that are recognized beyond the core of comicbook fandom. Much of the time, these female heroes seem to only exist to titillate the male readers. I know this is changing. Batgirl is fantastic as are both Captain and Ms. Marvel. And there are, of course, others.

But Thor is the big leagues. He is an original Avenger, a movie star.

If a woman can be Thor, then a woman can be anything.

Of course, this is the first issue of the new series and we don't get to see a lot of the new Thor. What we do see of her has been previously released as part of Marvel's marketing campaign. But the story manages to build anticipation despite the ending having been given away. On the last page, I find that I am looking forward to the new Thor even more than I was before. I am anticipating the second issue of this book even more than I anticipated the first.

This is the case in large part because Aaron and Dauterman tell a tense and dramatic story that had me sitting on the edge of my seat from moment one. From an assault on an undersea base by an army of frost giants to the menace of Malekith, King of the Dark Elves, the story unfolds cinematically, the dialogue and imagery blending seamlessly as the story builds towards the inevitable climax, the resolution that we all knew was coming.

What really makes this story work, however, what really makes me want to believe Aaron when he insists that this is more than just a gimmick, is the remarkable scene that plays out on the moon as Thor struggles in vain to lift his Uru hammer from the lunar surface. He is unworthy. And so, we are told, are the Warriors Three. And so, unbelievably, astoundingly, is Odin himself.

The High Father's return to Asgard is the return of the patriarch at the heart of the Asgardian patriarchy. He returns ready to assume his unquestioned rule, ready to assume command as the All Father. Yet, Freyga, the All Mother, is unwilling to follow him blindly, unwilling to keep silent in the face of his bellowing power. She is the central character in this issue, a powerful female force more worthy than all of the men around her.

When Odin uses the same words that men have thrown at women through the ages -- words that are meant to close the door on conversation, words that are meant to trump anything else that might be said -- when Odin tells Freyga that it is time that she remembered her place, Dauterman gives her a look and Aaron gives her words that force the conversation to go forward. "Yes," she says, "perhaps it is." And we know what she means.

So, in the fabulous two-page scene at the end of this book, the scene in which a lightning bolt rewrites the inscription on the hammer of Thor to say not "He" but "She", it has already been shown by Freyga what is at stake, why this must be (God I hope it is) more than a crass move to garner publicity and sell magazines.

There is a lot riding on Jason Aaron's latest Thor story arc. This is serious stuff. I hope he knows this; I think he does. Just in case he doesn't, let me say this . . .

This Halloween, if she wants to, my daughter can dress like her favorite superhero. Not just as a girl dressed like Thor. She can be the real thing. She can be Thor with red cape and Mjolnir. It will be a good fit.

She has the hair for it . . . and the sense of justice and honor . . . and the compassion and thunderous strength.


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